Review: Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

“Run the Jewels” is the answer, your question is “What’s Poppin’?”

Since the announcement in late October that they had leaked the much-anticipated sequel to their thrilling debut album, Run The Jewels has been the talk of the music world.  And it’s with good reason: Run The Jewels 2 is even better than the original collaboration between El-P and Killer Mike.  Their self-titled debut was among the best-reviewed albums of last year, and found a spot on most year-end lists, including our own.  The sequel does an even better job of mining and improving upon the best trends in hip-hop from the past twenty years, and finds the connection between the duo stronger than ever.

So while the quoted lyric above is certainly not the most acerbic or clever line on the record, the closing line of opener “Jeopardy” does sum up RTJ’s place in music right now.  If you need a better sampler of the album, you should listen to the banging “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”, which will fully abuse your car stereo’s subwoofers with its pulsing bass.  The two MC’s trade verses fast and furious, picking up their speed and intensity with each round as the music grows more chaotic around them.  Another highlight is “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) which builds a bouncy, stuttering beat off a guest appearance from Zach de la Rocha, recalling the era when turntablism reigned.

Run The Jewels 2 is a treasure-trove of brilliant beats and production from El-P, switching up styles and moods on the fly that accommodates the desire for variety while never sacrificing flow.  Grimy, serious material like “Angel Duster” and “Blockbuster Night Part 1” fits in easily with more fun tracks like “All Due Respect”, which takes the fun elements of rap-rock without the negative connotations that term has taken in more recent years, thanks to some excellent drumming from Travis Barker.  It’s a lean and efficient album too, clocking in at less than forty minutes, so it never wears out its welcome–but it’s likely that you’ll be putting the whole thing on repeat.

Note: there seems to be a difference between the free download version and the physical copy you can buy, with the former including an extra verse from Gangsta Boo to provide the female counter to the duo’s claims on “Love Again (Akinyele Back)” that’s missing from the purchased disc.

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